Mary Mancini

TNDP chair: If Haslam runs for Senate, Pilot Flying J will be an issue

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party

Nashville, Tenn. (September 29, 2017) – Mary Mancini, chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, released the following statement on Gov. Haslam considering running for the US Senate:

“Gov. Haslam’s family company, Pilot Flying J, has been embroiled in a fraud scandal since 2013 that has resulted in 10 indictments and $170 million in fines. To this day, Gov. Haslam has not had to answer for these crimes, but he has likely profited from them as he still holds an undisclosed stake in the company.

Nobody knows how much he owns or has profited because his very first executive order eliminated requirements for the governor and top aides to disclose how much they earn in outside income.
If the Governor decides to run for US Senate, we expect there will be considerably more scrutiny of his finances and his family’s business practices.”

Reorganized Shelby County Democrats elect new chairman

A restructured Shelby County Democratic Party elected Naval Reserve officer and lawyer Corey Strong as chairman on Saturday, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Strong, 36, became the party’s first chairman since it was forcibly disbanded by the Tennessee Democratic Party a year ago.

“My goal is to have a unified message across various interest groups and people of different backgrounds,” Strong said. “The values that we share are the values we want represented in our government, our communities and our neighborhood.”

Strong, a graduate of White Station High and the U.S. Naval Academy, served eight years on active duty in the Navy. He received a law degree from the University of Memphis in 2014 and is a special project manager in the Shelby County Schools finance department under a foundation residency program.

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TN Democrats oust old, bring in new at county level

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party

Over the past few weeks, thousands of Tennesseans gathered and reorganized 84 of 92 eligible county parties, and elected 52 new county party chairs. The change in leadership in more than half of the counties reflects a more energized group of Tennessee Democrats who are ready to stand up in their communities.

Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, Mary Mancini said, “We have seen a huge amount of new energy and interest in the Democratic Party since election day. People from all parts of Tennessee are becoming more active citizens, holding elected officials accountable and joining their county parties.”

Seven of the new chairs were candidates for the state legislature last year. Khristy Wilkinson, who ran for State Senate in Chattanooga, is now the Hamilton County chair. 2016 State Representative candidates Holly McCall (Williamson), Sharon Kay Edward (Bedford), Marjorie Ramsey (Cocke), Daniel Powell (Henry), Amos Powers (Putnam), and Deborah Reed (Tipton) were all elected chair of their respective county.

“The tenacity shown by these former candidates represents their resolve and commitment to continue fighting for Democratic values. They see the Republican supermajority is focused on divisive issues that do not address the everyday needs of Tennesseans. Electing more Democrats starts with growing our county parties and effective and energetic leaders are essential to that effort,” Mancini added.

All told, over 2,000 people participated in the county party reorganizations. It appears that many of the people who showed up in post-election protests and marches are now getting involved formally in the local democratic process. Currently, Tennessee ranks near the bottom in voter participation.

Mancini said, “Increasing voter turnout should be a bipartisan goal. Everyone has a stake in these elections. Many people who thought both parties were the same or that elections didn’t matter realized this year just how large the consequences of elections are. Those people are not only now participating, but they are leading.”

Mary Mancini unanimously reelected TNDP chair

The Tennessee Democratic Party’s Executive Committee has decided to stick with the status quo in leadership for the next election cycle.

Mary Mancini was reelected unanimously Saturday to a new two-year term as chair of TNDP “despite one prominent donor’s call for her to be replaced following last year’s election results,” as the Associated Press noted.

Democrats lost a seat in the state House as Donald Trump overwhelmingly carried Tennessee in November. The failure to gain back seats in the General Assembly led real estate investor Bill Freeman to call for Mancini’s replacement as leader of the party.

Freeman, who came in third in Nashville’s mayor’s race despite spending $3.5 million of his own money, has been mulling a bid for governor next year.

John Litz of Morristown, a former state representative and now a member of the party’s executive committee, was reelected vice chairman.

Further from The Tennessean:

Mancini, who said she was “incredibly honored and beyond thrilled” with the outcome, had originally faced two challengers who had announced bids. But by the time voting got around it was an uncontested race.

“The Republicans didn’t get elected overwhelmingly in Tennessee overnight,” Mancini said. “It took several election cycles, maybe 10 years. We are two years into that rebuilding cycle. We’re going to continue recruiting candidates. And now, it’s amazing because there are more people than ever that want to come and participate and run as Democrats.”

…Jamie Isabel, a former Nashville councilman who had pursued the chair position, withdrew his name from consideration Saturday ahead of the vote. Isabel claimed he had counted 26 vote commitments among executive committee members, but that still wouldn’t be enough to capture the chairmanship. He said he sought “party unity” instead and put his support behind Mancini.

John Pointer, also of Nashville, a former state government employee who most recently owned a Sears store in Columbia, announced a bid as well this month but he received no nominations Saturday.

… “The stakes are so high right now that there’s not really time for internal squabbling,” said state Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, who voted for Mancini. “Anybody that thinks that the party in and of itself is responsible for the state of things doesn’t know much about politics. It’s clear that it’s going to take a lot more than just the party to turn things around.”

Mancini gets second challenger to reelection as TNDP chair

John Pointer, who previously worked as a state employee under two governors and until recently ran a Sears store in Columbia, has become the second person to challenge Mary Mancini’s reelection as Tennessee Democratic Party chair, reports The Tennessean.

 Tennessee Democrats are set to meet in Nashville on Jan. 28 to appoint a party chair for a new two-year term. Mancini, who has held the position for two years, is seeking a second term. Jamie Isabel, a former Metro councilman from Nashville, is also running for the position.

Pointer, a Columbia native who has lived in Nashville for more than 30 years, previously worked as state director of the Office of Small and Minority Business Development under former Gov. Don Sundquist. He also worked as an assistant state director specializing in Section 8 federal funding in the Tennessee Housing Development Agency under former Gov. Phil Bredesen.

…He said he wants to bring a “business-like approach” to leading the state party.

“Fundraising, generating morale as well as recruiting millennials is my platform I’m going to run on,” Pointer said, adding that Democrats have failed to reach out to middle class families in rural parts of the state.

“I, being a state administrator serving under two governors, I know these counties. I’ve been to every country. I’m a native Tennessean. I’ve been a loyal sportsman, fisherman and I played athletics in the majority of all these counties.”

Pointer played linebacker for Vanderbilt University’s football team in the 1970s. He later played one year for the Green Bay Packers in 1978 before playing in the Canadian Football League. 

In 2013, he took ownership of his hometown Columbia Sears store, but the store was shut down last week amid financial struggles for the retail chain nationally.

TNDP lays off three staffers

The Tennessee Democratic Party has cut its staff from eight to five in what Chair Mary Mancini calls “right-sizing” for a non-election year.

The three fired on Tuesday were Communications Director Spencer Bowers, Deputy Communications Director Jackie Harms and Data Director David Plunk, reports the Nashville Post.

 Bowers had been at the TNDP a year, while the other two staffers had been there longer.

Mancini said the dismissals are simply part of the usual post-election “right-sizing,” not an internal shakeup ahead of the Jan. 28th leadership vote. She is being challenged for the chairmanship of the party by former Metro councilmember Jamie Isabel.

“No, it has nothing to do with that at all,” Mancini said. “This is just normally what happens after elections.”

Mancini’s leadership has been criticized by some party members after Democrats only defeated one incumbent Republican in statewide races and still lost ground in the House — criticisms hitting the national party as well.

…Bowers said he was proud of the work he did for the TNDP.

“I enjoyed my time at the party, and I think the work I did was good work. I think we did a good job of raising issues and holding Republicans accountable with Jeremy Durham and other issues of ethics oversight,” Bowers said.

Mancini said she will be looking for a new communications director to handle issue during the General Assembly.

Further, from The Tennessean:

Mancini said the party had already parted ways with multiple field staff members who had joined the party at the height of the recent campaign. She said the latest wave was to further the return to a post-election office structure.

… “There’s no financial issue,” she said when asked whether fundraising led to the moves. “It’s just the normal ebb and flow of staffing at a staff party.”

Former Nashville councilman challenges Mancini for TNDP chair

Jamie Isabel, who served as a Metro Nashville councilman from 2003 to 2007 and owns a business called  Dalmatian Creative Agency, is challenging Mary Mancini as chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party. He announced his candidacy to the party’s executive committee, which will elect a state leader next month, according to the Tennessean.

“Our party has lost its way about addressing issues that are very dear and close to the blue collar worker of Tennessee,” Isabel, a self-described moderate Democrat, said in a statement. He added that he wants to rebuild the state party to the success it had when Democrat Ned McWherter was Tennessee’s governor.

Days after the election, Nashville businessman Bill Freeman, a former candidate for mayor of Nashville and Tennessee Democrats’ top fundraiser, called for new leadership to steer Tennessee’s beleaguered Democrats. Isabel was an organizer on Freeman’s mayoral campaign.

If elected, Isabel, 51, said he would be the first African-American to lead the Tennessee Democratic Party.

…Holly McCall, a longtime political and communications operative who lost as a Democratic House candidate in Williamson County last month, had expressed interested in the position but told The Tennessean she is not inclined to run at this time.

TNDP ‘grassroots program’ to ‘fight back against GOP policies’

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party

Nashville, Tenn (November 28, 2016) – The Tennessee Democratic Party has announced a new grassroots program in wake of the recent elections on November 8th.

Coming on the heels of President-elect Donald Trump’s electoral victory on November 8th, the Tennessee Democratic Party has launched a new program, dubbed “The Rapid Response Team”, with the goal of engaging grassroots volunteers.

“We have been inundated with calls and emails from people looking to get more involved in the political process,” said Mary Mancini, chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, “With Republicans in power at the state and national capitols, it’s up to Democrats to hold them accountable for the decisions they make.”

After the election, rallies sprang up in cities across the country in response to fears that President-elect Trump would enact many of the policies he supported during his campaign. Democratic organizations are hoping to work with those who opposed Trump and work together to win elections in 2018.

“People are ready to stand up and fight back against GOP policies that will hurt small business, take away health care coverage and roll back gains we’ve made for equality,” Mancini remarked, “The Tennessee Democratic Party will be on the front lines, working with our volunteers, making sure that Trump’s Republican Party knows it can’t keep supporting these terrible policies.”

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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